SECRET  SOCIETIES

  

BY  DAVID  V.  BARRETT




INTRODUCTION




Secret Societies are rooted in our everyday experience. Everyone loves to hear secrets, to know things which most other people don't know. If it's something important, something significant, there can be a feeling of power in being one of the few people who know it; even if not, there's a satisfaction in knowing that you are one of the select few.


THIS  SHOULD  ONLY  APPLY  TO  THE  TRUE  CHRISTIAN;  NO  OTHER  WAY  OF  LIFE  SHOULD  BE  A  "SECRET"  TO   OTHERS;  SOMETHING  YOU  FEEL  SMUG  ABOUT;  EVEN  A  CHRISTIAN  IS  TO  LET  THEIR  LIGHT  SHINE.  AND  LIVE  IN  A  WAY  THAT  DOES  NOT  HOLD  BACK  IN  WHAT  YOU  BELIEVE,  AND  AS  PAUL  WAS  INSPIRED  TO  SAY,  "GIVE  AN  ANSWER  FOR  THE  HOPE  THAT  LIES  IN  YOU"  SHOULD  ANYONE  ASK  WHY  YOU  LIVE  THAT  WAY.  CHRISTIANITY  IS  NOT  A  "SECRET"  PER  SE….. IT  IS  A  WAY  OF  LIFE  THAT  SHINES  OUT,  A  CITY  SET  UPON  A  HILL  THAT  IS  NOTICEABLE,  A  CANDLE  LIGHT  THAT  IS  NOT  HIDDEN  UNDER  A  TABLE  -  Keith Hunt


As small children, many individuals - especially those raised on Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven, or Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine Club - formed a secret society of their own, a private club. Usually these had very few members; in some cases, only two, including the long-suffering dog.


At school, it's important to join in. If you're not in the First XI or the First XV, or the football, hockey or netball team, you have to join the philatelic club, the astronomy society, or some other group. If you don't, you're really a loner. Sometimes two or three loners group together; there's security in numbers, as well as companionship. And there's always some kid who is even more of a loner than the rest of you; you don't really want him, but you sometimes let him tag along with you, on the understanding that he's on the outside, not really 'one of you'; you let him know that there are secrets you're not going to share with him - even if there aren't.


SUCH  "SCHOOL  CLUBS"  ARE  OPEN  AS  SUCH,  EVEN  IF  YOUR  NOT  PART  OF  ONE,  YOU  KNOW  BASICALLY  WHAT  THEY  ARE  ABOUT.  HENCE  YOU  TRY  TO  JOIN  ONE,  BECAUSE  YOU  KNOW  WHAT  THEY  SAND  FOR  AND  WHAT  THEY  DO,  WHICH  IS  WHAT  YOU  WANT  TO  STAND  FOR  AND  DO,  SO  YOU  WANT  TO  JOIN.  I  WAS  IN  THE  "BOY  CUBS"  AND  LATER  THE  "BOY  SCOUTS"  BECAUSE  I  LIKED  WHAT  THEY  STOOD  FOR  AND  DID,  NOT  BECAUSE  THEY  WERE  "SECRET"  AND  MYSTERIOUS  AND  HIDDEN.  JESUS  WAS  NOT  MYSTERIOUS  OR  THE  LEADER  OF  SOME  "SECRET  CLUB"  -  HE  WAS  OPEN  ABOUT  WHAT  HE  STOOD  FOR,   OPEN  ABOUT  WHAT  HE  PREACHED,  ABOUT  THE  "CLUB"  THAT  BELONGED  TO  THE  FATHER   IN  HEAVEN.  WHAT  THE  FATHER'S  CLUB  WAS  ALL  ABOUT  HE  OPENLY  TAUGHT  AND  PROCLAIMED,  THERE  WAS  NO  DARK  HIDDEN  SIDE  TO  BE  KEPT  "SECRET"  FROM  OTHERS,  IN  SOME  KIND  OF  "VANITY"  MIND-SET  THAT  SAYS,  "I  HAVE  SOMETHING  OTHERS  CAN'T  HAVE,  IT'S  A   SECRET  OF  MINE  AND  I  CAN'T  GIVE  IT  TO  YOU."  THE  CHRISTIAN  CULB  IS  TO  BE  PROCLAIMED  OPENLY,  WHAT  IT  IS  ALL  ABOUT,  AND  HOW  YOU  CAN  BE  PART  OF  IT….. THE  AGE  TO  COME  WILL  HAVE  NO  "SECRET  SOCIETIES"  WHATSOEVER  -  Keith Hunt


When we leave school there is still that need to belong. For some this is satisfied by membership of a church; for others, by sports; for others by being one of a group of regulars at a pub. For some, folk clubs; for others, science fiction fandom. If you play football, your team is better than anyone else's; if an SF fan, you might speak dismissively of 'mundanes', those not part of your group.


Some groups have more kudos than others. If a leading member of your university debating society, you are on a powerful launch-pad; you might end up in the select company of lawyers, or in the British House of Commons.


If you're a businessman, or a small-town solicitor or a schoolteacher, or a policeman, you might find yourself joining a Rotary Club or the Freemasons. For most, the same need is being satisfied: the need to belong, the need to be one of the gang.


MAYBE  BUT  NOT  A  "SECRET  GANG"  -  THE  MOBSTERS  AND  CRIMINAL  GANGS  LIKE  TO  BE  "SECRET"  FOR  THEIR  DEEDS  ARE  EVIL,  PRACTICED  IN  DARKNESS  -  LITERALLY  WITH  MANY,  AND CERTAINLY  METAPHORICALLY  -  Keith Hunt


And for some, that need is to know things that other people don't: to have secrets; to be one of the select few. Knowledge is power, and the fewer people who share that knowledge, the more powerful they are. If invited to join such a society, you feel good about it. It might be the Freemasons; it might be a local amateur dramatic society. In this one respect at least, there is little difference. You are on the inside at last and, among other things, are now in a position to keep other people out.


BUT  HERE  IS  HUMAN  NATURE  AT  WORK….. DARK,  SECRETIVE,  VAIN,  EGOTISTICAL,  PROUDNESS,  SELFISHNESS.  SECRET  SOCIETIES  PAMPER  TO  THE  EGO,  TO  "I  HAVE  SOMETHING  YOU  DO  NOT  AND  CAN'T  HAVE,  UNLESS  YOU  ALSO  BECOME  PART  OF  OUR  MYSTERIOUS  CLUB,  THAT  SAYS  YOU  MUST  KEEP  IT  MYSTERIOUS."  THIS  IT  NOT  THE  ATTITUDE  OF  GOD…… THERE  WILL  BE  NO  "SECRET  MYSTERIOUS  SOCIETIES"  IN  THE  AGE  TO  COME  -  Keith Hunt



Nobody likes to feel left out. 'The psychology of perceived exclusion' - feeling left out - can cause jealousy and envy. Whether they admit it or not, many of those who attack the Freemasons, for example, may be harbouring bitterness that they have never been asked to join. But the same thing applies in all aspects of life: in the professions, church, clubs and other social groups. A common complaint is that the people who share out all the best jobs among themselves all know each other. One doesn't have to look at secret societies to find self-perpetuating inner circles. Why are some people more powerful and successful than others with equal ability? 'It's not what you know, it's whom you know' is a common grumble, especially when you're trying to break into a new field and find that all the plum assignments go to people who have connections in that field.


THE  WORLD  IS  MAINLY  CARNAL,  THEY  ARE  BLINDED  TO  SPIRITUAL  TRUTHS,  AND/OR  DON'T  CARE.  SO  SELF  INTEREST,  LOOK  OUT  FOR  SELF  FIRST,  GET  TO  THE  TOP  -  PUSH  DOWN  OTHERS  TO  GET  THERE,  JUST  A  SELFISH  VAIN  EGO  ATTITUDE  IS  ALL  TOO  COMMON  -  Keith Hunt


It's easy to ignore the counter-argument, that it's perfectly natural to give a job to someone who you know (from his or her track record) can do it, and who you know (from personal contact) you can trust. Self-perpetuating inner circles sometimes have a perfectly rational reason for existing.


YES  MAYBE  IF  JUST  HAVING  A  NATURAL  MIND-SET  -  Keith Hunt


But when someone who is known to shake hands in a particular way lands a decent job, whether a local building contract or the chairmanship of a major company, human nature would have us point a finger of suspicion at the Freemasons. And when sensationalist newspapers and books fearlessly expose corruption supposedly riddling Freemasonry, it's hardly surprising that some people believe it.


CARNALITY  CAN  BE  ANYWHERE,  EVEN  IN  THE  SO-CALLED  "GOOD  DEEDS"  GROUPS  -  Keith Hunt


This is not yet another book of that type.


Having said that, I'm quite sure that there are corrupt Freemasons. It would be astonishing if there were not. I'm equally sure that there are corrupt members of the Institute of Directors, the Trades Unions and, for all I know, the Mothers' Union.


Whether it's a child in his own special club of two or three members, or whether it's a businessman in the Freemasons, there's nothing unusual about wanting to belong to a secret society. It can be fun; there is the delight in knowing secrets that few others know; the satisfaction of being included in the in-group; a feeling of importance, and sometimes of power; and sometimes there is genuine power through being one of the decision-makers, one of the elite.


IT  ALL  BOILS  DOWN  TO  VANITY,  CARNAL  PROUDNESS,  A  ONE-UP-ON-YOU  ATTITUDE  -  Keith Hunt


But are you one of the real elite? Outsiders sometimes suspect there is a hidden group of people making the major decisions which affect all our lives. People sometimes joke about 'The Secret Masters of the Universe'. But once finally a member of the Freemasons, or the Yachting Club, are you any nearer to being one of these 'Masters'? Or do you suspect that an inner group of members are actually pulling the strings? You climb higher and higher up the ladder, and the thousands at your level become hundreds, and then tens. Compared to those further down the ladder, and even more to those who are right outside, the Great Unwashed, the mundanes, the profanes, you're one of the elite - but are you really one of the powerful decision-makers? Even the Grand Master of your Order (or the president of your golf club) seems to be constrained by the decisions of others. Perhaps he's just a puppet himself, a figurehead for public consumption; perhaps, behind him, there's a shadowy group who really run things. Perhaps they are 'The Secret Masters of the Universe'.


AND  SO  IT  MAY  GO  -  THAT  IS  WHY  SECRET  SOCIETIES  WILL  NOT  BE  ALLOWED  IN  THE  AGE  TO  COME  -  Keith Hunt


Conspiracy theorists have a field day with this sort of thing. Always, beyond the top, there's another level; always, behind the leaders, there are the secret leaders; and behind the secret societies that we know about, there are even more secret societies that no one has ever heard of.


ANOTHER  REASON  THAT  SUCH  SOCIETIES  WILL  NOT  EXIST  IN  THE  AGE  TO  COME  -  Keith Hunt


I'll be touching on such theories throughout this book.


For the record, I'm not a Secret Master of the Universe myself. I'm not at the time of writing (nor, in the words of the McCarthyites, have I ever been) even an ordinary, common-or-garden Freemason or Rosicrucian. You won't find the names of any Secret Masters in this book, except by accident. I don't know who they are. Neither does any other author on the subject.


By definition such Secret Masters (if they have any existence beyond the paranoid minds of conspiracy theorists) are unknown and unknowable to all except themselves. You can't apply to become a Secret Master of the Universe, as you can to become a Rosicrucian; membership is by invitation only. I imagine such membership would be extended to very, very few.


WILL  NOT  BE  EXTENDED  TO  ANYONE  IN  THE  AGE  TO  COME  -  Keith Hunt


Definitions and caveats


From the moment one first looks at secret societies, it becomes apparent that most of them have some sort of religious basis.


It may be useful to examine the origins of a few terms, many of them religious, often associated with secret societies.


Alchemy was never really to do with the transmutation of base metals into gold; this was symbolic of the transmutation of the base nature of man to the godly nature of the transformed man.


Arcane comes from the Latin for 'something that is shut up', or locked in a chest.


'As above, so below' refers to the mirroring of the macrocosm (the world, the universe, the cosmos, the God without) and the microcosm (the individual man, the soul, the God within).


Christ spark is a term sometimes used to refer to the spark of the divine flame, or the tiny fragment of God, within each human being.


Esoteric comes from the Greek for 'inner' or 'within', and applies to something taught to or understood by the initiated only.


Exoteric, from the Greek for 'outside' or 'the outward form', applies to knowledge available to the uninitiated.


Heresy and heretical beliefs are always defined as such by the establishment Church (of whatever religion), usually as a means of enforcing their control over spiritual dissidents. The word actually comes from the Greek for 'choice', which religious hierarchies have always denied to individuals.


Hermetic, often as in Hermetic Philosophy, comes from the name Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes the thrice-greatest, the mythical author of the occult Egyptian texts which lay behind fifteenth-to seventeenth-century alchemy; he was named for the Greek messenger of the Gods, equivalent to the Roman Mercury. 


Immanent, immanence (from the Latin manere, 'remain') refer to the indwelling nature of God; see also Transcendent/ence.


Initiate, as a noun or a verb, comes from the Latin for 'beginning', and generally refers to the admission of someone into secret knowledge.


Magic, mage, magus, magician come from the Greek for 'art' as in 'skill' - artful rather than artistic.


Myth, in its technical sense rather than its everyday sense, means a story whose importance rests on the message it carries, rather than on whether or not it is historically factual. Use of the word does not imply that a story never actually happened; in its correct usage, the Masonic tale of Hiram the Architect, the stories about King Arthur, and incidents in the life of Jesus are all myths. The phrase 'the Jesus myth' includes not just the New Testament account, but also the centuries of popular accretions, such as the three wise men, not numbered in the Bible.


Occult comes from the Latin for 'hidden'; it is used in that sense in both astrology and astronomy today, without any devilish connotations.


Rite, ritual, from the Latin, mean a solemn or religious ceremony or observance.


Transcendent, transcendence (from the Latin trans, 'beyond', and scandere, 'climb') refer to God being 'out there somewhere', beyond human apprehension; see also Immanentlence.


Western Mystery Tradition: Depending on the particular emphasis of a school, this can include the study of the Arthurian cycle, or Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology.


It usually includes study of the Cabala and Tarot, and the spiritual alchemical teachings of the Hermetic Philosophers.


Note that the word 'orthodox', except in one or two places where with a capital letter it clearly refers to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, is used throughout in the sense of mainstream, establishment, 'normal' beliefs, in contradistinction to unorthodox, heterodox, unusual and probably heretical beliefs. Exoteric Christian beliefs and practices are orthodox; esoteric ones are not.


The capitalized word 'Church' refers to the authority of the Christian establishment, of whatever denomination. In many places, historically, this means the Roman Catholic Church; in other places, depending on the context, it can mean the Protestant authorities. The word 'church' with a lower-case 'c' means a church building.


The word 'God' is capitalized throughout, both for convenience and to avoid the implied value judgement of showing discrimination between 'the one true Christian God' and 'false pagan gods'.


The word 'Mason' means Freemason; without the capital letter it refers to stonemasons.


Throughout this book I mention several varieties (as opposed to denominations) of Christianity. These should be defined in the sense in which I am using them, as follows.


Such terms as mainstream, traditional, orthodox, establishment, and standard are used to refer to the majority of Christians in the major denominations, who generally follow the teachings of their Church. Historically, in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, they regard their priest as the intermediary between themselves and God, though this has changed quite a lot in the last few decades. Many are devout believers, well versed in their faith. Others, while holding a sincere belief in the main tenets of orthodox Christianity, would be hard put to argue theological points. Some, whom I refer to as 'pew-sitters', have only a vague, generalized understanding of Christian doctrine; the Church is a familiar, comfortable part of the establishment in their life, and little more than that. Having said that, most of Christian history - Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant - is mainstream; most normal Christian doctrine is mainstream; most Christian scholarship is mainstream. Mainstream Christian doctrine ranges from Evangelical to Liberal.


Evangelical Christians have asked Jesus Christ to be their personal Saviour, and believe that they have assurance of salvation. They know the Bible well, and they can argue their theology. They believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, though there is some range of belief on this. For example, there are Evangelical biblical scholars (e.g. Professor F.F. Bruce) who accept many of the findings of biblical criticism of the last hundred years or so, but whose faith in Jesus as Lord is not affected by this. In recent decades Evangelicalism has grown in importance within the Church of England, and there are now numerous Evangelical bishops.


Only a minority of Evangelicals are Fundamentalists, but they are an outspoken minority. A Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian believes absolutely in the literal truth of the Bible: God created the world in six days, Adam and Eve were real people, Moses parted the Red Sea, and so on. If anyone suggests any doubt about the factuality of such events, they are to be condemned; true Fundamentalists even regard most Evangelicals as having a fairly wishy-washy, watered-down belief, while most other people who call themselves Christians simply aren't: Roman Catholics, for example, are the Whore of Babylon. Fundamentalists reject biblical criticism out of hand; the suggestions that people may have edited books of the Bible to support their beliefs, or that the choice of which gospels and epistles ended up in the New Testament was a human decision, or that parts of the Bible should be interpreted allegorically, are regarded as outright blasphemy.


Liberal theology, to Fundamentalists, is simply not Christian. Liberal beliefs again have a very wide range, from almost mainstream right up to God-is-dead. Generally, liberal Christians are likely to doubt the Virgin Birth, the physical resurrection, and many miracles in the Bible. They accept biblical criticism into their views, and regard parts of the Bible as allegorical rather than factual. Some would speak of Jesus the man, and Christ the Saviour; they would distinguish between the mainstream belief in the deity (Godhood) of Jesus Christ, and the more liberal belief in the divinity, or divine indwelling, of the man Jesus.


Some readers may be offended by some of the ideas discussed in this book: the suggestions that there might be some truth in all religions, that the Bible was compiled by human hands, and that the majority of Christian doctrine wasn't formulated until several hundred years after the birth and death of Jesus. But such concepts are hardly new.


The vast majority of ordinary Christians are kept ignorant of the scholarly findings and debates of the last century or so pertaining to their religion. Anglican and Roman Catholic priests all study the development of biblical criticism during their training for the priesthood, but they rarely pass any of this knowledge on to their congregations. In the early 1990s the Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev. David Jenkins, caused controversy by saying that it is permissible to have doubts about such matters as the Virgin Birth and the resurrection, and still remain a Christian. Fundamentalists condemned him, as might be expected; but the media behaved as if no one had ever voiced such thoughts before, and that the Bishop had no right to do so. Many said he shouldn't be a Bishop; some said he wasn't a Christian.


A century of biblical criticism and religious scholarship might as well never have existed. Any writer discussing varieties of belief constantly meets such popular ignorance and condemnation. For an excellent discussion of this problem, see the first chapter of The Messianic Legacy by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.


In places this book is critical of previous books in one or another specific area of this overall subject; this is most apparent in the chapter on Freemasonry. This is not a case of authorial infighting; more importantly, it does not mean that I am acting as an advocate for Freemasonry or for any other movement. Such books are criticized in order to point out sloppy scholarship, poor argument, factual errors, or what might be seen as outright deceit.


This book is a phenomenological exploration of the beliefs of certain organizations, movements and individuals, rather than a statement of my own beliefs. I am not personally either approving or antagonistic towards any secret society, or any branch of Christianity or any other religion. Where there is criticism it is of bigotry, small-mindedness and tunnel vision, and such faults are by no means restricted to Christian, or indeed any other religious movements.


In many ways this book can be seen as a companion volume to my The New Believers (Cassell 2001). Inevitably there is some overlap between the two, though I have tried to keep repetition to a minimum.


One further point must be made right at the start. Most of the present-day organizations mentioned in this book say firmly that they are not secret societies. The Freemasons are often quoted as saying that they are a 'society with secrets, rather than a secret society'. The various Rosicrucian groups generally call themselves schools of religious philosophy, or something similar. One organization, the Lemurian Fellowship, wrote: "though we understand the basis for your proposing to include the Fellowship in a book about these [secret societies], it simply would not be accurate". They go on to say that "the Lemurian lesson material is available only to qualified students. Not because it is 'secret' but because each lesson's information provides a basis for the next; along with this the Fellowship teachers' guidance to each student according to his individual needs makes the deeper benefits possible and adds to the uniqueness of Lemurian Training."1


There is no simple definition of a secret society, but this comes as close as anything to describing four of the major characteristics of secret societies:


* carefully graded and progressive teachings


* available only to selected individuals


* leading to hidden (and 'unique') truths


* and to personal benefits beyond the reach and even the understanding of the uninitiated.


A further characteristic common to most of them is the practice of rituals which non-members are not permitted to observe, or even to know the details of.


FIVE  GOOD  REASONS  WHY  SUCH  SOCIETIES  WILL  NOT  BE  ALLOWED  IN  THE  AGE  TO  COME  -  IN  THAT  AGE,  THE  KNOWLEDGE  OF  THE  LORD  SHALL  COVER  THE  EARTH  LIKE  THE  WATERS  COVER  THE  SEAS  -  NO  "SECRET"  ABOUT  GOD,  HIS  WORD,  HIS  WAY  OF  LIFE;  IT  WILL  BE  THE  RESTITUTION  OF  ALL  THINGS,  OPEN  AND  GIVEN  OUT  TO  ALL  PEOPLE  IN  THAT  AGE  -  Keith Hunt


Whether or not they call themselves secret societies, the movements - whether historical or present-day - mentioned in this book exhibit some or all of these characteristics.


Secrecy is endemic in our society. It always has been. Later in the book I shall look at secrecy in crime and government; before that I examine the Freemasons to see where they came from, and the Rosicrucians and where they came from; and the whole confusion of secretive philosophical and religious organizations throughout the centuries. Everywhere there will be found connections: the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, the Knights Templar, the Cathars. There are links of ideas and ideals between all of them, and they all share common roots: with these roots my discussion begins.


Movements and individuals are covered more or less in chronological order throughout the book, except where discussion of one leads naturally into discussion of another. Certain subjects, such as Architecture, Tarot, Magic and others, which span centuries, are explored where it has been most convenient to place them.

………………..


TO  BE  CONTINUED